It isn’t a myth. Eating at night, and/or close to your bedtime can make you pack on body fat. Especially for women (always us!).
Here is why:
Ever heard of the term ‘circadian rhythm’? It adapts its’ functions according to what time your body thinks it is, based on how much light your sensory organs are picking up. During ‘day time’, your body’s metabolism is at it’s best and most efficient. However, when the body starts to wind down and prepare for bed from around 8/9pm, it prioritises a different set of processes. So when you eat a meal, and especially a big or heavy one around or after 8/9pm, you are essentially running the risk of experiencing indigestion and stagnation of food in the gut. These factors increase your susceptibility of developing gut health issues, as well as indirectly contributing to fat gain in several different ways.
Because metabolism is slowest at night, eating at night can also directly cause fat gain because your body isn’t going to be neither deligating nor utilising the energy from the calories you’re intaking. Obviously if you’re also just laying around or going straight to bed, the inactivity is also going to work against you, as you won’t be doing anything to burn the fuel you just put into your body.
And now, for the grand slam, let’s discuss how this process can affect the liver, and how THAT also affects your ability to put on fat, worsen your body composition as well as slow down your metabolism.
The liver’s job is to clear out and detoxify all the toxins, metabolized hormones, pathogens and whatever else your body deems as waste products. The hours in which your liver does the majority of its work, is between 11pm – 1am. The efficiency of your metabolism, is determined by how well your liver works. The efficiency of your liver, is determined by how unburdened your liver is (do you see where this is going?). If you are burdening your liver and making it do a heavy task near bedtime, it’s going to be hard to get everything it needs to get done, done.
Think of it like this. Your boss has asked you to do a job. It is already a hefty, complicated project. But like the superstar that you are, you are right on time to complete said job. Things are going great. Then this prick decides to dump another 2 projects in your tray, which you have to complete by the end of the day, all of the projects are of equal importance. Now, just swap your boss with you, and ‘you’ with your liver. Do you see the bigger picture now?
Of course, life isn’t always going to run according to our circadian rhythm, and late night dinners and snacks will be had. And that is ok, so long as you are extra conscious of what you’re eating, how much and how often you’re doing it.
Had a long day, and didn’t have time to eat? Have easy to digest foods, which your body doesn’t have to work too hard to break down and assimilate.
Foods like activated white basmati rice, quinoa, steamed vegetables, slow cooked meat/fish, plain and dairy free yogurts, broths and soups are much easier on the digestion system than high fat, spicy, deep fried foods and raw vegetables.
Also, quantity is key. Eat a smaller portion than what you would normally eat during the day. A way to trick your body into eating less is by eating mindfully, chewing each mouthful at least 15 times, and being present.
While it isn’t ideal to eat anything at night, this is a good way to mitigate the side effects associated with late night meals.
If you’ve been trying to shift a bit of body fat and improve your body composition, I invite you to try abstaining from food after 8pm. Stick to non-caffeinated teas, maybe a portion of fruit and sparkling water if you feel peckish. Try this for a month, and perhaps combine it with a vegetable rich healthy diet, and some AM walks. It works!
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